7 Secrets to Winning Your Next Pitch Competition: Part 4

At last, here we are to conclude our final part on the seven secrets to winning a pitch competition. Thank you for making it this far through the series. These final tips can help separate you from the rest. Stick around to the end so we can provide you with a quick snapshot of all the tips in one easy place to find.

6. Know Your Numbers:

Tip number 6 can make all the difference if you want judges to truly entertain your offer. This tip is to show off your numbers, including revenues, profits, number of customers reached, and much more. Companies that show a growth trend in their revenues year after year tend to get the most attention from judges because the proof shows that they are able to grow year after year. It is also important to illustrate how many consumers are in your potential target market, and what your numbers would look like if you captured a larger segment of that market.

Your financial projections will paint the picture of the health of your company, it will either show that you are onto something special, or you are on the cusp of dying off. However, anyone can put up flashy numbers, so you must show the judges how you arrived at those numbers. If you have multiple revenue streams, then it is also necessary to show the individual revenues of each stream and then the overall aggregate. If your numbers are not all that great at the moment, then you must be open and transparent with the judges so that you can tell them how you plan on growing your revenue if you had more capital.

7. Engage the Audience and Have Fun With Telling Your Story:

Last but certainly not least, the final tip is to allow your personality and individuality to shine through. If there are two companies with similar potential and risk, the judges will choose the company with the founder who is the most likable and exudes the most positive energy. People invest in people at the end of the day, and want to see that you have what it takes to win at the highest level. So many great companies pitch in front of investors with really strong business models, but they get overlooked because they were too bland and could not make the connection with the audience. You will still need a strong business model to win, but showing off your charismatic personality could be the difference between you winning and someone else. Please take the competition seriously, but do not be afraid to have some fun out there and engage with the crowd. It will take the nervousness away from you and it will allow you to show who you are as a founder.

Pitch competitions can seem very stressful and nerve wracking on the surface, but with a little guidance and some practice they really are not that bad. Here at LIFT we hope these tips can be of some use to you if you ever decide to choose a different route to get funded. It does not hurt to try, and win or lose the experience that you will gain from competing in a pitch competition can be enormous. By seeing what other entrepreneurs are doing you can potentially learn from them and even network to help each other out. The more you pitch the more likely you are to win.

For example one of the companies that went through our Challenge Program, “Elite Sweets,” had never pitched before. They ultimately ended up winning the audience choice award, but not only that, a few months later when they pitched again they ended up winning around $200,000 in prize money at a large pitch competition in San Francisco called WeWork. Their dedication and determination to improve on their pitch paid off and is the ultimate testament to why pitch competitions are one of the newest trends to get funded.

LIFT hopes that this four-part series will help you unlock your full potential of pitching. These secrets will not only help you with designing and performing a pitch, but it should help you take a step back and look at your business. If you think your business needs a little boost, then please be sure to check out our programs, which are designed to accelerate your business growth. If you loved the tips, and want an easier way of holding them, download our PDF graphic with a short synopsis of each key.

We wish you the best of luck if you decide to pitch. If you want to learn more about our programs and pitch competitions, check us out here.

7 Secrets to Winning Your Next Pitch Competition: Part 2

Welcome back! We hope you enjoyed part one of our four- part series on the seven secrets to winning a pitch competition. In this section we’ll dive deep into understanding your business economics, and tackling the idea of how to convey a compelling story.

2. Know your Business Economics:

The second tip is to make sure that you know your business inside and out. If you don’t, you’ll face the possibility of being called out and eaten alive by some of the judges. This one is crucial; because it separates the serious contenders from those who have not thought about all facets of their business. If you cannot answer questions about your sales cycle or customer acquisition strategy, judges will immediately overlook your company.

Before pitching it is essential to look at your business from all angles and understand your strategies for sales, marketing, operations, etc. If you do not have the answers currently in place, then you better be able to talk about what you would do if you had more capital to work with. You should know everyone’s role on your team, and where your capital is going in your business.

Being able to convince judges that they would get a major return on investment is the main objective of pitch competitions. Introduce your story, how you got here, and the results that you have gotten so far. If you show proper growth trajectory, then you must illustrate where your company could go with more capital to work with.

Try This: Look at commonly asked questions by judges at different pitch competitions so that you can get an idea of what types of questions to expect from judges.

3. Tell A Compelling Story About the Problem and Unique Solution

The third tip to winning a pitch competition is to keep your audience engaged and focused. In today’s world, more and more people have shorter attention spans, so it is absolutely necessary to get the audience on your side from the start.

We’ve seen countless pitches where it is really hard and distracting to focus on both the speaker and the slides behind them. The reason is because it is hard for people to read long slides while listening to what you are saying simultaneously. Your attention will be divided, so to avoid this you must have the audience focused on you. People may ask, well isn’t the point to have my information on the screen for people to read? No! You should be the guide for your pitch, so you want your presentation to be balanced in both what you are saying and what is on screen.

In order to achieve this equilibrium have slides that back up your points. The audience should be solely focused on what you are saying, but the slides will provide proof to back up what you are saying. Another thing to remember is to not have too much writing on a slide. Put your revenues/profits in big and bold writing, while having graphics that show market potential. Graphs, photos, videos, are always useful in getting a point across quickly. Just make sure to not over do it with your use of helpful tools, because it can take the focus away from you.

This concludes part two of our four-part series. Hopefully now you understand the opportunity you have right in front of you as a business owner. Please join us next time as the series looks at how to share your business success and how to make a sufficient ask from the panel of judges or investors.

7 Secrets to Winning Your Next Pitch Competition: Part 1

Pictured Above: Jorge Ruiz de Castilla from The Chip Merchant Pitching at LIFT’s Fall 2018 Bootcamp Pitch Day

Let’s face the facts: Pitch competitions are one of the newest and easiest ways to get your business funded with the right capital. However, there is a catch: You will likely have compete against numerous other businesses who are just as qualified as you are. The importance of standing out among everyone else is the key to winning most pitch competitions.

Most businesses decide that they want to get funding quickly through venture capital, but no one wants to just give away equity in their company. Other options include debt financing by going to a bank to get a line of credit, but banks are trying to avoid risks at all costs. By competing in a pitch competition hosted by either a non-profit, third party, or large corporation, you are able to win quick cash without having to sign any long — term debt contracts or give up anything in your company.

LIFT Development Enterprises, Inc. hosts numerous pitch competitions for small- to medium- sized businesses, and it has become clear that there is a certain recipe for being successful. We’ll walk you through the biggest takeaways and tips we’ve learned from winning pitches and the judges’ feedback.

Every pitch competition is different, so it is important to know the rules and guidelines before you pitch. But there are some universal tips that should work whether you are pitching for 45 seconds, 3 minutes, 5 minutes or 10 minutes. The path for winning is the same. Pitch competitions can vary in sizes, prizes and the amount of judges in the audience. All of these factors play a big part in how you approach your pitch. In this four — part series, we’ll take a look at the secrets behind a successful pitch.

(1) Prepare to Present to Your Audience

The first tip is probably the most important one for all pitch contestants whether you are a beginner or advanced. Be prepared! Preparation for the pitch event will show just how serious you are about winning. There are only a select few people in the world who can just wing a competition like this. There seems like there is a major correlation for winning companies that spent a lot of time on preparation, versus those who prepared little to none.

What does preparation exactly mean? Well first off, know your audience and alter your messaging to fit the crowd. Once you know who your audience is and who the judges are, it becomes so much easier to convey who you are and what your company does. You should be practicing your pitch constantly in front of friends and family to make sure you have it down. However, being prepared does not mean memorizing a script and being robotic. It should feel smooth and natural to talk about your company.

Try This: Video recording your pitch practices and turn off the volume so you just notice your body language and what your tendencies are like. Then just listen to your pitch recording and hear if everything sounds right.

We’re just scratching the surface about pitch competitions. We encourage you to subscribe to this four-part series. These keys will help unlock your full potential as a business owner. We’ll see you soon — in part two.

CarAudioCare Achieves 40% Revenue Increase in 2018

Robert Cruz, founder of CarAudioCare, joined the Spring 2018 EMBC after having a burning desire to learn how to position his business for growth and work ON his business, rather than simply IN it. He won the EMBC and ever since the program he has achieved and reached new heights in a very short amount of time. The biggest obstacle for Robert when establishing CarAudioCare was trying to grow on his own. Since completing the program, Robert has made key hires to help grow his company.

Prior to EMBC, Robert had some knowledge about business, but now he has gained insights and tools to implement growth strategies such as lowering the cost of goods, increasing  his number of customers, and selling more to his current clientele.  After grasping this newfound knowledge, Robert placed 1st at the EMBC Pitch Day and has applied changes to his business that exemplify accelerated growth. In addition to adding a bookkeeper to his team, he has hired a part-time technician who will be transitioning to full-time soon. CarAudioCare is on track to increase revenue by 15%.  Robert has been operating his business for 11 years and has talked to many people who have offered advice and tried to help him grow, but no one has compared to the team at LIFT Development Enterprises. EMBC helps small businesses by teaching them innovative methods and guiding them through their execution so they can reach the next level.

Robert attempted to request funding from many different banks, but unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in securing financing with them. Once participants graduate from EMBC, they undergo a 24-month period of frequent checkups from the support team to address any business needs. In Robert’s case, we helped develop his portfolio to be approved for alternative funding. With our team’s effort, Robert was approved for a loan from Accion to grow his business.

CarAudioCare increased its revenue in such a short amount of time, that it qualified to enter our advanced growth accelerator program: Founders Business Growth Bootcamp. Upon graduation of our Bootcamp program, Robert will have even more opportunities to receive mentorship and funding as he endeavors to expand to other regions of California.

With a commitment to work hard and a desire to grow, your company could be the next sustainable and successful small business like CarAudioCare.  No one can grow without a little bit of help. We hope that the Elevate My Business Challenge can be the spark that ignites a fire for your business growth!